First thing’s first, this article does not stem from any intention to instigate fear.
There is already enough fear floating around in the airwaves from so many events. We can try to believe that these things will not happen again, but we are not being realistic if we do not acknowledge the violence that is occurring in our world.
Secondly, when referring to “terrorists,” I am including but not limiting the term to attacks by ISIL or other groups (some just as dangerous, if not more, who have had a history of plotting and acting from intentions to do serious harm to others).
If we look at terrorism as the spreading of fear, it can extend to police violence, misogynistic and narcissistic types inflicting domestic violence in the home, troubled souls driven for various reasons to mass shootings and even parents planting seeds of hatred in their child—who then spread this to your child, which you later find out about at the dinner table.
While I have not been a direct victim of terrorism in the conventional sense, I believe I have personally experienced enough violence and fear in my to develop at least some moderate insight into these dynamics.
One crucial piece that I have come to learn is that the greatest opportunities for long-term change, or dissolution of this dynamic, stem from choices made during the times of peace.
It is during these golden in-between times of quiet where we set our intentions.
Whether the violence is in your home, your city, or somewhere else in the world, find some quiet and choose how you would like to respond when or if an event of this nature happens again.
We can fight fear with love—and also with truth. This is the only way that these situations and the ripples they cause will ever dissolve.
We have the option during these times of peace to choose how we will respond and we can practice it, and even experience how this feels, before it ever happens. The choice is always there.
During any event, situation or conflict, there is always a choice—even if only for a nanosecond—in how we choose to respond.
We can default to a reaction, or choose a response.
So, during the times of peace, choose.
We can choose if we want to contribute to the ripple of fear and/or violence or respond in a way that stops this ripple right in its tracks.
We all have the power—each and every one of us, individually—to stop the ripple, whether this involves de-escalating a household argument, not responding with angry posts on social media or avoiding engaging in the chaos in other ways that are not productive.
We can decide during these times if we want to stand firm in the truth that fighting fear with fear gets us nowhere.
We can form intentions to stand firm and tall in our ability to respond with compassion to ourselves by knowing that we are responsible for our own energy and emotions.
I have children, and when I was breastfeeding one of them I had an extreme amount of volatility in my life. I knew at that time that if I allowed myself to feel stress in reaction to the storm of my surroundings I would not be able to provide the nourishment they needed.
This was a crucial time for me when I truly realized the importance of being responsible for my energy—emotionally, physically and mentally. This was also a time when I experienced for myself my capacity to do so, and it is there for you as well.
For me, it was about so much more than just not feeling things or not suppressing emotions, but rather deciding how I perceived and responded to the volatility in an effort to prevent the stress from even manifesting in my system.
This took preparation and practice and presence, and it is not always easy, but it is right there for all of us.
This is what it is all about, right?
These lives of ours are so much about choosing our responses to situations and events in order to love ourselves and better serve and love others.
I do not believe that practice ever makes perfect, as “perfect” is an illusion. Rather, practice is conducive to presence. This, along with intentionality, can not only heal, but also prevent so many wounds—within ourselves, and for all of humanity.
We can always practice our ability and capacity to respond by being aware and maybe even taking a few breaths before we engage in any active manner.
We can prevent much of the stress and many of the emotional wounds in advance by understanding that those who wound are often the most wounded, confused or misled.
We cannot take anything personally when we implement this perspective, and when we can find this we can stop the ripple of violence and fear by not spreading it even further.
This does not mean complacency; rather, discernment in how we respond, which does not stem from fear.
If terrorism, fear and hatred are the wildfire, then we can be the water.
This is how we love ourselves and this is how we come together, collectively.
Our best way to prepare ourselves is through intentionality. By choosing this response in advance and opting to stand firmly in it, we take away the potential for these fires to ever burn out of control.
This, is power—not the false power of fear; rather, it is the most real and truest of power available to each and every one of us.
All that we need to do is choose it.
Author: Katie Vessel
Editor: Toby Israel
Photo: Jon Bunting/Flickr